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William Trevors short stories explore several themes; faded love, hopeless marriage, as well as alienation and loneliness. By focusing on two of these short stories, The Distant Past, and In Isfahan, these themes that usually set a mood of melancholy w

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William Trevor's short stories explore several themes; faded love, hopeless marriage, as well as alienation and loneliness. By focusing on two of these short stories, The Distant Past, and In Isfahan, these themes that usually set a mood of melancholy will be compared and contrasted within the coursework. It will be shown that the above themes are constantly lurking on the fringes of both these stories. Although, the context or setting for Trevor's stories differ as well as the characters, the ordinariness and often bleak or peculiar attributes are all combined to bring these themes to life. Finally, the essay will look at the resolution and show that both stories show a hopelessness and loneliness that seems characteristically dark and offers no hope for a happy ending for the main characters in each story. A major undercurrent of the Middeltons background is the theme of the past. Trevor sets this theme against a phase of Irish history where sectarian attitudes within both communities had acted as a catalyst for a period known as the troubles. As such, the Middeltons like many others on both sides of the religious divide they are prisoners of the distant past, which has shaped and defined cultural, political and religious identity for centuries. Trevor's narrative gives a rich sociological and historical description of the decline of the family's fortunes and the Middeltons resolve to hold on to Carraveagh the family home, "a large house, built in the reign of George II, a monument that reflected in its glory and later decay of the family fortunes". ...read more.


The perception of this tragic sour little fairy story, a tale of Cinderella gone wrong leaves Normanton with an uneasy feeling. Yet Iris through this emotive outburst is left speculating on whether Normanton is married as his expression during these conversations is portrayed as a man with a deeply pained look on his face. Here Trevor shows his ability to keep the flow of the story and the plot hanging just enough to leave the reader's interest always wanting more. The ordinariness of the characters in the distant past is depicted not only in the story's narrative, but also the physical description. With the Middletons being thin and silent with bony countenance, pale blue eyes and high cheekbones that are complemented by a sharp nose. The shattering of the status quo, the compromise and tolerance of Irish village life is the outbreak of the troubles. This watershed acts as a catalyst in bring the human emotions that Trevor eloquently uses to open up the old wounds of past conflicts. With the landing of troops in the North and the attempt of the locals to somehow convince themselves that these events are not representative of their own community are crushed with a downturn in the economy. Here Trevor shows the once cosmopolitan nature of the town is also a prisoner of past conflicts. These events leave the reader to ponder on the underlying psychology of the troubles, and how these feelings of bitterness, regret, and loyalty to the past slowly resurface in tribal outbursts. ...read more.


Although the context and setting for each of these stories differs, the reader is left in little doubt of the inner workings of the human psyche, and the fact that were all human, and as such, nothing human is alien to us, as well as the characters. This latter aspect always captures the mood of melancholy and frustration that is common to the characters within both these stories. In conclusion the stories certainly lack an element of passion, and a dynamic that fails to truly capture the alienation that the characters are experiencing. Yes the frustration and bland ordinariness of the narrative convey the redundant conversations in the melancholy tone, which Trevor bleakly wishes to achieve; yet the depths and meaning of these alienated characters lack an intellectual introspection. For example, the Distant Past at best skims the surface of the troubles and leaves the reader amazed that the political, and social factors that have led to the angst of the Middletons, is past off as some superfluous historical event. This effectively means that life in these stories is reflected in predictable and clich�d characterisation that lacks the intellectual depth of a writer like Chekov. Whether this is Trevor's personal take on life is clearly debatable, yet this shortcoming seems to detract from the consistency of what Trevor is aiming for namely: the flaws and anguish of human circumstance. In short, William Trevor may capture the mood of melancholy and the tone of frustration within these narratives, yet the lack of an intellectual depth to his writings gives his characterisations a superficiality that detracts from his works. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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